Category Archives: The Movies

Greta

Everyone Needs a Friend.

Greta (2018)

A young woman befriends a lonely widow who’s harboring a dark and deadly agenda toward her.

Starring: Isabelle Huppert • Chloë Grace Moretz • Maika Monroe 

*Minor spoilers*

Bags of fun

Huh. Knowing this is directed by The Crying Game’s Neil Jordan, you would naturally go in expecting a high quality thriller. What you actually get is an enjoyable, yet ultimately empty and forgettable movie with questionable central performances. Which I’m gutted to type, honestly because ever since I saw the trailer, I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release date.

The premise alone is so intriguing. When nice girl Frances McCullen (Chloe Moretz) finds a handbag on the subway, there’s no question of what she will do. She returns it to its rightful owner, Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert). Greta invites her in for coffee and learning that she is widowed and missing her daughter, who lives in Paris, Frances takes pity on the woman – and a friendship is born.

Grieving for her own mother, who has passed away the previous year, Frances finds a natural connection with Greta. Frances’ BFF Erica (It Follows’ Maika Monroe) warns her that the whole scene is a little bit icky – and moreover, that Frances’ wholesome goodness will result in her being eaten alive by NYC. Frances doesn’t see it like that… until she discovers some new (and sinister) information about her new friend.

What on earth is Greta’s game and what does she want from Frances?

Chink chink motherfucker

Needless to say this is an intense stalker story that culminates in a nasty situation. But why? This is my issue with the story. We learn via a secondary source (played by Zawe Ashton), that things aren’t as they seem, particularly regarding the relationship between Greta and her daughter. There’s a vague hint at what G might be hiding but there’s no exploration of why she is what she is. And the climax is cool and all but it’s also shaky and predictable.

I was expecting so much more. I thought I’d be blown away by a motive I’d never even considered, with twists and turns I couldn’t imagine. Instead I got several shoddy false starts and a lot of head scratching time. That said, I still enjoyed myself – and while she’s not given that much to do, I liked Erica (when will MM get the consistently great roles she deserves?).

“I loved you in It Follows.”

About those central performances. I mean, c’mon! Huppert is a dream of an actress with a sting in her tail. Her turn in 2016’s Elle was wonderful – I expected more of the same, if not even more unhinged and delicious. Yet her Greta never really gets going in the way I hoped. It’s not a bad performance, it just doesn’t ever gain the momentum you’d expect. She is chic AF though, which is a given.

In turn, lovely Miss Moretz seems to phone her part in. I do find her acting hit or miss at times (even though I like her) but it’s as if she turned up to filming without really reading the script first. However, I can’t really blame the actresses for this, the film just doesn’t pack a punch and they can only do so much.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

I Am Michael

Yes or No_

Two James Franco movies in a row? What the hell is going on in the world? Well, I guess it serves me right for messing up Jillian’s first choice and only being able to find a non-subtitled copy, rendering it useless. This was Plan B.

I must admit I was attracted to the story and to Zachary Quinto‘s involvement – and this has been on my list for a little while, so I wasn’t that upset. Welcome to another post in April’s Based on a True Story category.

One man. Two lives.

I Am Michael (2015)

Based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor after identifying as a heterosexual.

Starring: James Franco • Zachary Quinto • Emma Roberts

*Minor spoilers*

Michael (Franco) is in a happy, long term relationship with Bennett (Quinto). The pair live and work in San Francisco where Michael is a gay rights activist and editor of XY Magazine. Life is tough but good as the socially conscious pair explore the LGBT+ scene, sexual liberation and the challenges of being gay in the early noughties. They also get a dog together which is probably the most important milestone in this entire film, right?

You can do way better, Zach

All is well until Michael has a health scare, believing he is afflicted with the same heart condition that claimed his father’s life when he was just 13 (Michael, not his dad). His mother passed away six years later, when he was 19. Despite the doctors insistence that it is just a panic attack (later it is revealed that he has Celiac’s disease), it sends ripples of panic through Michael and he starts to question everything.

Unfortch, most of that is how his homosexuality can possibly live alongside his newfound religious beliefs – which it turns out, it can’t. So Michael explores several different faiths, including Mormonism and Buddhism, all the while renouncing cock, his friends and the gay lifestyle. This is a stinger for Bennett and their mutual friends who don’t understand Michael’s need to pursue his “true self”. And nobody can blame them for that.

Michael’s Frosted Tips Anonymous group was brutal at times

When Michael travels to Wyoming to attend a Christian bible camp, he meets Rebekah (Emma Roberts), a nice Christian girl also trying to figure out life (I hear you, gurl) – and they fall in love. Which is handy as Michael’s just about to become the pastor of his own church. How will Rebekah take the news of Michael’s fruity past?

Well, this film is fine but it’s pretty lack lustre if I’m honest. There’s nothing wrong with the performances but it’s very introspective and boring at times. I mean, the story is astonishing – and even though I am against it in so many ways – it is a true account of one man’s journey so I have to accept that.

I do have sympathy for anyone struggling with finding themselves and if Michael lived the life he truly wanted to then you can’t really argue with that. I just find it awful in one of the final scenes when he speaks to Bennett and refers to his former choices as ‘abnormal’.

Some of the secondary characters are pretty good, I have a lot of time for third wheel Tyler (Charlie Carver) who’s just adorable. But this is quite forgettable and it didn’t command my full attention either – so I haven’t hit you with a lot of detail because I was pottering around for a lot of it.

“I’m a hetero, CIS white guy now so you will listen to my bullshit…”

James Franco for the record irritates me so fucking much. He’s just so skeezy and I hope he doesn’t pop up in too many of our future films. Maybe we should ban him.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does wifey thing of our Plan B movie? Would she advocate for it like a boss or renounce it soon as look at it? Find out here, obvs where Jill gives a way more detailed take on the whole situation.

Easter Horror Movies – I Watch Them So You Don’t Have To

To celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, I thought I would do something extra special on the blog.

So, while you’ve been munching chocolate for breakfast, I have been exploring a small selection of crappy Easter horror movies (and munching chocolate for breakfast). Apparently the Easter horror sub-genre is really a thing and while it was hard to get hold of a lot of them, I did my best.

*Minor spoilers*

1.-eastershortbunnyjesus

JESUS Christ

Holidays (Segment: “Easter”) (2016)

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.

Nicholas McCarthy‘s segment “Easter” is a nightmarish short, playing on childhood fears and things that go bump in the night. I almost didn’t want to feature the above image because it is pure nightmare fuel and the story itself, while super simple, isn’t much fluffier.

A young girl gets freaked out on the night before Easter when her mum tells her about an impending visit from The Easter Bunny. Worried she might accidentally disturb him in the night, mum tries to explain the bunny’s connection to JC as his holiday mascot. When she does wake up and meets the bunny for herself, she soon realises he is nothing like his wholesome description.

Let me assure you that the image of the resurrected Jesus/Easter Bunny hybrid of this story will not leave you quickly. He’s grotesque in every way, popping baby chicks out of the holes in his post-crucifixion palms. He’s not evil per se, just otherworldly and he’s not about to let the girl off now she’s the first child to ever see him IRL.

For a short film I think this packs a pretty decent (and macabre) punch.

🐣🐣🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hop it

Cottontail (2017)

A notorious Serial Killer known as ‘Cottontail’ faces a slew of personal issues as he falls in love with the girl of his dreams, all the while trying to put together his ultimate ‘Easter Egg Hunt’.

This plays like a high school media studies project but isn’t a terrible premise. Cottontail the notorious serial killer wears his ‘skin suit’ 364 days of the year but for one day – Easter Sunday – he gets to be who he really is: a very bad bunny.

CT swears down that nothing has happened in his life to turn him into a psychotic mass murderer but there are red flags. While he works on his physical fitness for the big day and gathers together a like-minded group for his Easter ‘game’ – he laments a broken heart and his feeling of guilt towards his family.

He’s surprisingly sensitive is our antagonist and when he falls for moll Carmela, a similarly beautiful monster – he realises he’ll do anything for love. Which is all kinds of cute if you can overlook all the horrific murder, obviously.

This is… not good. But it’s kind of fun and the earnest narration by our bunny is quite endearing. The masks are cool too.

🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Only the very best FX for this blog post

The Beaster Bunny! (2014) – also known as: Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell

A giant bloodthirsty Easter bunny starts viciously killing the local townsfolk. When the Mayor refuses to act and the attacks grow more gruesome, the town finds its very survival in the hands of a wannabe actress and a crazy dog-catcher.

This is an absolute travesty but it has a certain charm. I mean, I’m a sucker for crazed giant animals stomping humans like ants, especially obnoxious ones. Meanwhile, the film’s director seems to be a sucker for boobs – since almost all his female victims either lose and/or are stripped of their clothing before their respective death scenes.

This gives it a seedy feel which I can’t even be bothered to rage at. Anyway, it’s all pastiche right? Needless to say there are a lot of lame jokes and observations (young people are obsessed with social media!) peppered throughout, some truly atrocious but enthusiastic acting and the worst FX I’ve ever seen.

Want to know an Easter secret? I paid £3.49 on Amazon Prime for this monstrosity – and I couldn’t even finish it. So I don’t know why there’s a giant Easter bunny terrorising this town or how it ends. I suspect I’ll live with my decision though.

🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hello boys

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

Eggs of the small, furry alien carnivores are left behind on Earth and, after hatching, again set their appetites on the town of Grover’s Bend.

The sequel to 1986’s Critters has a tenuous link to Easter but fuck it, it made the list anyway. After the events of the first film, a couple of Grover’s Bend locals unwittingly discover a nest of eggs left behind by our alien buddies. Keen to turn this find into a profit, they sell them to an antiques store in town where they’re sold as Easter eggs to a nice old lady. What could possibly go wrong?

Thankfully, there are a gang of space bounty hunters on the case to clear Earth of the Critters – but until they arrive, lots of high jinx and murder ensue. Exactly what you need to celebrate your favourite chocolate based holiday.

Well, this has an unfair advantage perhaps in the sense that it holds cult status and production values of more than $5 (looking at the last two movies in this list) – so it’s better all round. And it’s also nice to see the Critters again honestly. Sure, they’re no Mogwai and pals but they are a slice of kitschy horror history.

🐣🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Uh, wrong blog post, guys…

If you’re interested in exploring this niche pocket of horror movies, then I have a list of titles for you. I think I’ll line some up for next year:

  1. Easter Casket (2013)
  2. Easter Sunday (2014)
  3. The Night Before Easter (2014)
  4. Serial Rabbit (2005)
  5. Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)
  6. Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)
  7. Peter Rottentail (2004)
  8. Kottontail (2007)
  9. Bunnyman (2007)
  10. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Happy Easter All!

Little

She woke up like This.

Little (2019)

A woman is transformed into her younger self at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear.

Starring: Regina Hall • Issa Rae • Marsai Martin

*Minor spoilers*

2509_D009_00195_00197RV3_COMP

Blessed image

A modern day, female-centric Big? You got me. This is a fun concept and it stars Insecure’s creator Issa Rae – what else do I need?

Sure it doesn’t have any real surprises but it does also have Regina Hill as ‘big’ Jordan Sanders running around being a complete bitch. It’s horrible obviously but also comedy gold.

When she pisses off the wrong person, Jordan finds herself cut down to size. Literally. Waking up the morning after as her pre-teen self, she is forced to bring reluctant assistant April Williams (Rae) in on the tee – that she’s half the woman she was the day before (in stature anyway).

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“One Venti cup of steaming bitch juice. STAT.”

Through a comedy of errors, Jordan finds herself back in school and April running Jordan’s high-flying company, which is at risk of going under if they can’t impress their biggest client with a new product. What japes!

Well, you can already guess how this will pan out but sometimes there is comfort in that and I did find it funny. Little is written and directed by Tina Gordon, a WOC and you can tell. While she hasn’t done masses yet, I am looking forward to seeing more from her.

Meanwhile, Issa Rae is a dream to watch on the screen, and both her and Hall are actresses I want to see way more in film and TV. Hall’s mega bitch Jordan is deliciously bad, having formed this persona after high school to ensure she never gets bullied again.

Bag ladies but in like, the best way

Special shout out to the true star of the film, little Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) who knocks her part out of the ballpark. She’s all sass and rocks her scenes, particularly in the classroom (her flirt-fest with her highly reluctant teacher – played by Justin Hartley – is a scream). And she’s never better than when she’s sticking up for her underdog new friends – who are also totally adorable.

This is a film about black girl magic, female friendship – and opening yourself up to the best things in life, like well, magic and female friendship.

And I appreciate it for that.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Mid90s

Fall. Get back up.

Mid90s (2018)

Follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 1990s-era Los Angeles who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.

Starring: Sunny Suljic • Katherine Waterston • Lucas Hedges

*Minor spoilers*

Mid90s-movie

You literally take the hardest hits out of anybody I’d ever seen in my life. You know you don’t have to do that, right? ~ Ray

Oh slow burning indie movies, how I love thee. Jonah Hill‘s directorial debut is beautiful and sweet there’s no denying it. However, I don’t know how long I will think about it now I’ve seen it.

Stevie (Sunny Suljic) comes from a single-parent home with a bully for a big brother. His mother Dabney (Katherine Waterston) is still young and gorgeous (having had her first child at 18) – and is dipping into the dating pool again. I would tell you more about her but apart from a couple of minor scenes, we know very little of her.

It is suggested that she’s had ‘a past’ that has included a revolving door of suitors – and this might be why older son Ian (Lucas Hedges) is so tormented (read: such a dick).

Stevie is yearning for something clearly, for when he stumbles across a group of skateboarders outside a local skate shop, he wants in – and makes it his mission to join them. Which is no mean feat when you’re just a kid.

Summer-summer-summertime…

Eventually he makes it into the crew and the new friends become the centre of his new world. The gang are: Ray, Fuckshit, Fourth Grade and Ruben – and they are all dealing with their own issues. Stevie rubs Reuben up the wrong way by quickly becoming the new golden boy – and this leads to an inevitable showdown between them.

The gang in general might not be as solid as they once were. Leader of the group Ray (played by the really fucking good Na-kel Smith) is drifting away from his BFF Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), determined to leave the hood for something better. Can their friendship survive when Fuckshit is determined to just keep partying? Meanwhile, Dabney isn’t very pleased about her son’s behaviour now he’s part of something she can’t control – can she put a stop to it before it goes too far?

A mood

All in all, this is a lovely debut. There is a sex scene involving Stevie and an older girl which made me feel really icky though – so I am very glad it stopped where it did. Honestly, I get that this happens but he’s a literal child and I do not want to see him sexualised!

The female characters aren’t given much to do either. In fact the only women we actually see are Dabney and the skate groupies on the sidelines. That’s not great, Mr Hill. Come to my room and let’s discuss this further.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Hellboy

Demons Have Demons Too.

Hellboy (2019)

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

Starring: David Harbour • Milla Jovovich • Ian McShane • Sasha Lane

*Minor spoilers*

Hellboy-Still-6

“Who are you calling ‘Helmet’?”

Who are you calling a monster, pal? Have you looked in the mirror recently? ~ Hellboy

This movie has received a lot of negative reviews. Milla Jovovich herself was asked what she thought of all the bad press and she responded that it will be a cult classic instead – and fuck the box office (to paraphrase). Which is possibly the best answer ever.

Having now seen it for myself, I can safely say… I completely agree with her.

Nobody is more surprised than me to learn that I loved this. I adored del Toro‘s HB movies more than cocoa puffs. BUT – I had a high old time with the new Hellboy (though admittedly it took me a moment). David Harbour might not have been my first choice to fill Ron Perlman‘s boots but I’m glad he’s here now.

The addition of psychic conduit Sasha Lane to the cast – as well as a fine turn (as always) from Ian McShane and a little help from a wild and wonderful new friend – and this does have the makings of a film you’d revisit again and again. Screw the people who didn’t like it.

milla-jovovich-blood-queen-in-hellboy-2019-p3

Yaaaaaas (Blood) Kween

Directed by Dog Soldiers’ Neil Marshall, it is extremely gory – with limbs flying and eyeballs exploding left and right. It is bloody for the sake of being bloody in places – and I am down for that.

Sure, some of the dialogue is utterly laughable but in that 90’s action movie way, particularly the one liners. In fact, most of the things this movie has been criticised for are the things I loved about it. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There’s a wonderful and grotesque segment inside Baba Yaga’s walking house which I adored – and the story itself, while stupid in place, is firmly grounded in old English folklore so what’s not to like.

Jovovich plays it pretty straight as super villainess Numue the Blood Queen but has a comedic sidekick in the form of pig faced Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham). And while we failed to stay for the post-credit scenes (rookies), this does climax with a hint to what could follow in the Hellboy universe and I’m there with bells on.

Yeah, I probably would

Glynn and I were pretty much the only two people in the cinema enjoying ourselves but I’m not mad about being in the minority – come see me when this is the ultimate cult classic in 25 years time and I’ll tell you – I told you so.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Pet Sematary

Sometimes Dead Is Better.

Pet Sematary (2019)

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

Starring: Jason Clarke • Amy Seimetz • John Lithgow

*Minor spoilers*

Which way to certain doom?

She won’t come back the same ~ Jud

Hmmm. I waited a long time for this updated adaptation and now it’s here, I’m not sure.

I mean, it looks good – let’s start there. There are a couple of really sweet SK nods that I appreciate. The house and the setting of the cemetery itself is spot on. I love the Wicker Man aesthetic of the local children in masks (even though they aren’t used at all, which is a shame).

John Lithgow‘s Jud is magnificent – but there’s a lot of character development missing for me. While they go in quite hard on the Zelda/Rachel story arc (which pays tribute subtly to another SK classic), they don’t pad out the family enough for me to give much of a damn.

Louis: loving life

Jason Clarke (good-looking Piers Morgan) is Louis, the tormented father with the power to bring his dead child back from the dead. He’s alright but I do feel the character could have been played by any slightly hot dude of a similar age. Rachel (Amy Seimetz) is actually quite good at times as she deals with the PTSD of her sister’s illness – but as with a lot of female characters in King’s stories, she isn’t given that much to do beyond look stressed out. A modern adaptation could of had her kicking more arse? (Just me?).

I also have issue with how easily Louis resurrects his daughter, Ellie (played by Jeté Laurence). In the book there’s much more examination of his moral quandary – and how much the decision plays on him. The film is only 101 minutes so we don’t have the luxury of spending too much time with the to and fro but still. I think perhaps having the book so clearly in my mind (I read it in the last year and loved it) hasn’t helped but slightly hindered my enjoyment.

There he is

I have to mention the trailer too! It gives so much of the film away that it really damaged things for me. Yes, I get that this is a story that most people know, either from the book or from the 1989 film but this version offers a different take on the story (sort of) by choosing to kill off a different kid. Had we not known that this was the case then ‘the scene’ would have packed quite the punch. While keeping our eye on Gage, we would have completely dropped the ball on Ellie.

I suppose the ending is different and it deserves a nod for that. It’s pretty dark and maybe I would have liked a bit more time to sit with that rather than just have it end. I can’t help think how good this might have been had they made it into a series instead.

All of the above said, Glynn and Matt enjoyed it much more and for some of the reasons I didn’t – so it really is down to a matter of taste. My verdict is: not terrible but ultimately, what was the point?

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?